I applaud the overwhelming, bi-partisan approval (18-0) of the recently negotiated PBA and EMHP contracts. This vote reflects the fact that absent the elimination of the broken mandatory arbitration system, the PBA agreement represents the best opportunity to protect taxpayers over the long term by making new cops significantly more affordable.
The PBA contract breaks the cycle of arbitration that has placed a heavy burden on Suffolk County taxpayers over the past 20 years. The last arbitration award in Suffolk County at the height of the great recession granted raises of 3.5% a year with no concessions. This vote saves Suffolk County taxpayers $54.9 million in retroactive payments while providing raises that are lower than what could be achieved in mandatory arbitration. In exchange for these raises, this agreement changes the game moving forward for Suffolk County taxpayers by putting new police officers on a different trajectory. It also provides the following:
• New police officers will pay 15% into their health care, the first time on Long Island that law enforcement will be paying into health care.
• A lower starting salary for new police officers of $42,000 that remains at that level through the term of the agreement.
• Doubles the amount of time it takes a police officer to reach top pay, increasing it to 12 years as compared to the current 5 years to reach top pay.
• Freezes to pay for new police officers at effective 2011 levels.
The approval of the Employee Medical Health Plan contract saves Suffolk County taxpayers $17 million in recurring savings through 2020. These two approvals provide more than $70 million in savings for the 2013 Operating Budget.